My rule of thumb for a great book on things I’m interested to learn is if I want to put the book down half way through and start doing what the author is writing about. Mark Shepard’s book Restoration Agriculture definitely fits that bill. I would highly recommend this book to anyone into self sufficiency , sustainable living or even someone looking to start a business with profit potential.
Restoration Agriculture isn’t exactly a manual on broad acre acre permaculture but it sure does give does give you the basics on implementation and a sense of what is possible. Reading this book really inspired me to want to implement the practices outlined; for my self and future generations. Good stewardship of the earth and environment should be a principle that is shared by all, Shepard’s book shows how profitable these principles can be. If your not one to believe the world is going to freeze or drown tomorrow by the hand of Man, at least you can find common ground and put into practice steps that are profitable and don’t involve indulgences from the high priests of climate change .
Imagine a true inheritance to leave to your posterity, one that can provide a business and sustenance to your family for decades after an initial investment. That’s the promise of Restoration Agriculture. In the book of Genesis we are told of Adam and Eve’s life in the Garden of Eden, we imagine that if they were hungry they’d just forage for whatever they felt like eating with the one exception. Contrast this with when they were driven from the Garden, Adam is told he’d eat “By the sweat of” his brow. Was man cursed to toil for his daily bread? I think it’s more that God knew Man would want to do things his way and not follow the patterns of creation. Mark makes a point that civilizations that depend on annual crops eventually collapse. The amount of energy spend on annual crops has a diminishing return while perennial crops can supply greater out put of all the nutrients and sustenance needed in our diet with less effort. If we, as a society, wish to sustain ourselves, broad acre perennial crops with silvopasturing is in our future.
Silvopasturing is the practice of grazing livestock in the woods and is an integral component of Restoration Agriculture. Shepard details the oak savanna biome that existed in much of North America and the plant and animal species that existed in those biome. To Implement Restoration Agriculture we must try to simulate these original biomes instead of forcing in our monoculture annual row crop square peg.
Another important principle of Restoration Agriculture is growing our perennial plants from seed instead of grafting. Trees grown from seed can have a rich genetic diversity. If you grow from seeds you have a a chance to win the “Genetic Lottery”, your own variety that is optimized to grow on your land that produces the tastiest disease resistant fruits abundantly. It may take take cutting down lots of dudes but it can happen if you plant enough perennials from seed. Trees from grow from seeds can produce fruit for more than 100 years compared to a couple of decades max from grafting.
I hope you get a sense of what a big deal Restoration Agriculture actually is and read the book. Mark Also has a DVD I have yet to watch. If you’ve watched it please leave a comment and let us know how you liked it.